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September 6, 2016

How colossal thermoelectric effect arises in iron compounds elucidated

Phonon transport is an essential property of thermoelectric materials. Although the phonon carries heat, which reduces the thermoelectric efficiency, it contributes positively to the Seebeck coefficient S through the phonon-drag effect, as typified by the high-purity semiconductors, which show fairly large S at cryogenic temperatures. Although such a large S is attractive in terms of Peltier cooling, a clear guiding principle for designing thermoelectric materials enriched by the phonon-drag effect remains to be established. Here we demonstrate that a correlated semiconductor, FeSb2, is a promising thermoelectric material featuring quasi-ballistic phonons dragging d electrons with large effective mass. By changing the sample size within the sub-millimetre order for high-purity single crystals, we succeed in substantially increasing S to as much as −27 mV K−1 at low temperatures. Our results exemplify a strategy for exploring phonon-drag-based thermoelectric materials, the performance of which can be maximized by combining heavy electrons with ballistic phonons.


(Link) http://resou.osaka-u.ac.jp/en/research/2016/20160906_1